tv CBS Evening News With Russ Mitchell CBS March 27, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm PDT
>> tonight battle for lynnia, rebel forces retake two key oil port cities as qaddafi's army retreats in the face of allied air power. also tonight, defining the mission, the secretaries of state and defense take to the airwaves ahead of president obama's speech on libya tomorrow. >> japanese officials briefly overstate radiation readings at the fukushima plant. but even the real numbers are still too hot to handle. and memory masters, could you remember an entire deck of playing cards in order? they can. t captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with russ mitchell.
>> good evening, russ mitchell is off tonight. events are moving swiftly on several fronts in the battle for libya. here's the latest. rebel forces are regaining lost territory in the oil producing region. nato is taking full command of the military operation and powerful explosions are reported tonight in tripoli. the rebels are advancing westward from the rebel stronghold of benghazi where our mandy clark is reporting tonight. >> reporter: battles back in rebel hands, ras lanuf was a key hold for qaddafi's army as it pushes east, locals say it is free of forces once more. we were here as the rebel hold of the city collapsed to qaddafi's forces two weeks ago under heavy bombardment. it was the shelling of civilians that triggered coalition forces to take out qaddafi's heavy bep ree that surrounded several eastern cities. rebels say the government forces are on the run but they're not going to chase after them this time. they're going to conduct
clearing operations to secure the ground they fought so hard to win back. the first city back in rebel hands as qaddafi forces retreated. now people are taking stock of what they suffered through. pictures of the dead and names of the missing are posted at the hospital. this doctor decided to stay when government forces took control. his hand was injured when the hospital came under attack. >> reporter: families are starting to return, though some people did stay to protect their homes. >> i was scared, look at these bombs, he says. rebels are content. but also cautious. they say they will get to tripoli step-by-step, city by city. pro qaddafi forces are believed to have pulled back
all the way to qaddafi hometown and stronghold there have been a number of coalition air strikes tonight around the city. and there are also reports that government forces are now pulling out of cert and moving westward towards tripoli. >> reporter: mandy clark in benghazi, thank you. also in benghazi today hundreds of women marched in support of a libyan who claims she was gang raped by troops loyal to qaddafi. yesterday she burst into the hotel where the libyan government is keeping the foreign media. she started yelling that she had been held for two days and raped repeatedly. the minders, those government employees who keep an eye on foreign reporters, charged at the woman. so did waitresses in the hotel. one put a table cloth over her head to try to keep her from talking. the woman was dragged away, a government spokesman first said she was drunk and unstable. then these pictures started being broadcast around the world and tonight the government says it has
opened a criminal investigation. and the woman is safe at home with her family. top nato officials meeting in brussels today agreed to take over command of the military operation in libya from the united states. while here at home two key cabinet secretaries were out today making the case for the president's strategy. rick johnson has details. >> we're succeeding in our mission. >> reporter: with that mission in libya entering its second week, the obama administration touted progress on the sunday talk shows. >> it's going well, ben? would you give him good marks. >> i think it's going very well. >> i think the military mission has gone quite well. i think we have been successful. there was never any doubt in my mind that we could quickly establish the no-fly zone and suppress his air defences. >> reporter: the secretaries also made clear u.s. policy that moammar qaddafi must go is not the aim of the current mission. >> one of the things that i think is central is you don't, in a military
campaign, set as a mission or a goal something you're not sure you can achieve. >> reporter: the critics on capitol hill say the administration's policy lacks clarity. >> i think there should have been a plan for what our objectives were, a debate as to why this was in our vital interest before we committed military forces to libya rd today nato assumed full command of the mission. the president says america's role will be limited. >> we're not putting any ground forces into libya. >> reporter: and that other union heaveal in the middle east like the recent bloody crack down in syria will be looked at case by case. >> each of these, we are looking at and an liz will-- analyzing carefully. but we can't draw some general, sweeping conclusions about the entire region. >> reporter: and president obama makes his pitch monday evening in a televised national address. he'll have to sell u.s. military action in libya to an american audience already weary from two long warrings in iraq and afghanistan.
jim? >> at the white house for us, thank you. elsewhere in the region the government of syria has sent the army into the main port city of latakia the latest city to be swept by protest against the rule of president bashar assad. the government says at least 12 people have been killed, reportedly by ungown-- unknown gunmen firing from roof 207s. for more on the policy challenges facing the president we are joined by john dickerson. good evening. >> good evening, jim. >> a quick question to start with, what does the president have to get done tomorrow night? >> well, he has to outline the exact shape of u.s. policy in libya, most important is the military role. how involved will the military be? how long will it be involved? and also what are the objectives, what does success look like. the president also has to kind of explain again the two halves of his libya policy. the humanitarian piece that required military intervention, and the second half, which is pressuring qaddafi to leave but that does not have a military component.
he will declare victory of a sort by saying the military piece has been largely completed and hope that by saying he delivered on that promise, people will believe him about the promises he's making for the future. >> and there will be a few different audiences, of course. capitol hill will be holding some hearings about libya. what is the president going to have to do in terms of addressing congress through his speech tomorrow night? >> he will have to take care of some bruised feelings. one, house aides said to me we wish he had consulted us as much as the arab league. the president has to say why he made the decision he made. why was it in the u.s. national interest to stop a massacre, why is it not in the u.s. national interest to use military might to get qaddafi out of office. congress wants to know if there is a new obama doctrine, just exactly what it is. it is not just about libya, but it is also how does this affect u.s. policy in all these other countries in the middle east and northern africa that are changing so rapidly. >> and quickly, john, are the republicans speaking with one voice on libya? >> no. there are many different
voices. there are those who didn't want any intervention at all. there are those who want more intervention, a military strike on qaddafi himself. and then of course there are republican presidential candidates who are also all over it on this issue. >> john dickerson in washington, thank you. >> turning to japan, operators of that crippled nuclear plant conceded today the crisis could-- the crisis could last for months or even years. here is the latest. the official disaster death toll neared 11,000. almost 17,000 are still missing. a 6.5 quake tonight triggered a new tsunami warning. and officials said radiation in one of the reactors was 100,000 times above normal. lucy craft in tokyo has more. >> reporter: panic at the plant. false radiation readings 10 million times higher than normal sent emergency workers scrambling from the fukushima dai-ichi nuclear plant on sunday. a correction soon followed as did the inevitable apology. >> i'm sorry for causing so
much alarm. the number was wrong, this official says. the real reading is still high. 100,000 times higher than normal. and came from a pool of water in unit two. two workers had to be hospitalized on thursday for burns after stepping in similar pools of contaminated water. those pools are a problem in four of the complex's six reactors. primarily because no one knows what's causing them. top government officials suspect the seepage is from a cracked reactor core in one of the units. the prospects are not improving in a straight line and we've expected twists and turns chief cabinet secretary yukio edano says. the contaminated water is one of them. safety officials had planned to puferp the contaminated water to holding tanks inside the reactor but they are full. and until the radioactive water is removed from the plant's floor, workers cannot run new electric cables that are essential to restarting the reactor's cooling system.
meanwhile, the human and economic cost of the twin disasters that sparked the nuclear catastrophe continues to climb. the price tag for the disaster now tops $300 billion. making it the world's most expensive natural disaster. lucy craft, cbs news, tokyo. >> still ahead on tonight's "cbs evening news", an inside look at america's nuclear crisis, 323 years later. -- 32 years later.
>> for millions of americans the nuclear crisis in japan has brought back harrowing memories of this country's worst nuclear accident. three mile island. it began 32 years ago tomorrow. elaine quijano looks back. >> reporter: at 4 a.m. on a wednesday water pumps for the cooling system inside three mile island's unit two stopped. the nuclear reactor automatically shuts down. >> the station emergency alarm was going on and on. >> reporter: as 27-year-old
systems operator tom kaufman arrives for his 6:30 shift, pressure inside the reactor is rising. >> when i went in the control room it was all business. there was no panic. theres was no fear. >> reporter: but because of mechanical and human errors a relief valve is left over forcing out cooling water and causing the reactor core to overheat. >> the temperature kept building up and building up to the point where about half of the fuel in the nuclear reactor got too hot, it melted. >> reporter: by late morning small amounts of radioactive gases are detected off site, at the nuclear regulatory commission in suburban washington, harold denton was monitoring the incident. >> communication was very difficult, it's fair to say. >> reporter: yet by evening the core is cooling again. the reactor appears to be stabilizing. but more problems arise on friday. >> radiation levels were increasing throughout the plant. >> reporter: a radiation release occurs. denton choppers to three mile island with an nrc team to take charge.
>> please stay indoors with your windows closed. >> reporter: in nearby middletown shops and schools close. pennsylvania governor dick thornburg ordered pregnant women and preschool aged children within a five mile radiation to evacuate. >> he is only two and you don't want to take a chance when they are this little. >> reporter: as fears increased, plant information is fragmented. >> confusion, contradiction and questions clouded the atmosphere like a tomorrow-- atomic particles. >> reporter: that night denton breaks the news, a partial meltdown has occurred. >> we are concerned, though, about the status of the fuel in the core. there is extensive fuel damage. >> reporter: on saturday, there are new worries about the core containment vessel. >> we found out that there was a bubble of hydrogen in the vessel and there was a lot of attention given to could it explode. >> reporter: eventually denton's team concludes there is no danger of an explosion. so on sunday president jimmy carter tours the plant with denton. after 21 days managing the crisis, denton left.
tom kaufman stayed with the plant 23 years and is now with the industry's main lobbying group. >> 32 years later there absolutely no medical or scientific evidence that shows that anyone outside the plant was harmed. >> reporter: still, public confidence in nuclear power was shaken then, as it is being shaken now. elaine quijano, cbs news, new york. >> just ahead on tonight's "cbs evening news", who in the u.s. government allowed guns to be smuggled to mexican drug cartels?
forced 230,000 people to flee, about half seeking refuge in the united states this is new details emerge about a u.s. program that allowed illegal guns to be smuggled in the other direction. cheryl attkisson has been following the drug trail. >> since our first report in which atf agents told us they allowed thousands of weapons to cross into mexico, one crucial question has been who knew how high you up. atf sources say they were told the controversial operation called fast and furious in late 2009 through january this year was to try to gain intelligence to take down a cartel. president obama was asked about the case in an interview with univision network. >> well, first of all i did not authorize telephone. eric holder, the attorney general, did not authorize it there may be a situation here in which a serious mistake was made. if that's the case, then we'll find out and we'll hold somebody accountable. >> reporter: but darren gil insists somebody in the justice department did know.
he was the lead atf official in mexico when his supervise never washington told him fast and furious was approved beyond atf director kenneth melton. >> gi to the director aware, he said yes, not only is the director aware of it, doj is aware of it. >> department of justice. >> department of justice was aware. >> oddly off gil says atf locked him and his staff out of the case files and told them not to alert their mexican counterparts. >> reporter: i was told that sometimes you had screaming and shouting matches over this. >> i did. when is this case going to shut down. the mexicans are goinging to have a fit when they find out about it. i mentioned hey, at some point these guns are going to end up killing a government mexico official, a police officer. >> reporter: that's exactly what happened. two of the weapons were eventually found at the murder of border patrol agent brian terri. gil retires in december. he worries that with no one in charge speaking out, a ---- atf agentings in mexico who have no part of the case are being threatened with prosecution
>> my name is geraldine ferraro. >> geraldine was her formal name used when making history. but this trail blazer was never geraldine, she was always gerri, smart, savvy, blunt, feisty, a mother of three from the borough of queens who never intended to stop there. >> she didn't go out as a shy, retiring woman, was going to wait her turn. she went out with both hands grabbing. >> reporter: writer jimmy breslin lived a few doors from ferraro. he watched her take a law degree at night while raising three kids, and then a congresswoman from a blue collar. >> those are my people from queens. i love it. >> gerry ferraro understood hardball politics. >> reporter: never was that clearer than in the 1984 vice presidential debate when george bush attacked. >> let me help with you the difference, miss ferraro, between iran and the embassy
in lebanon. >> let me just say first of all that i almost resent vice president bush, your patronizing attitude, that you have to teach me about foreign policy. >> reporter: when she and mondale lost in a landslide she was blunt, political veterannester fukes recalls her moxy. >> gerry ferraro said the only way democrats were going to beat ronald reagan was if they had god on the ticket. and she was busy. gerry ferraro was on the ticket, for hillary clinton and sarah palin and the many yet to come, that has made all the difference. tony guida, cbs news, new york. >> we'll be back.
who's strongest, that has nothing to do with sports. >> one minute remaining. >> reporter: 42 participants aged 14 to 64 memorize 120 names and faces, a deck of playing cards, a string of 500 random numbers, and that's just the first task. >> time is up. >> reporter: this year ronnie white trained hard to defend his title as two-time u.s.a. memory champion. >> i mem orized a deck of cards 30 times a day. i will get a computer program that generates random numbers and i will do it-- 200 digits at a time. >> the 37 year old has met his match in younger upstart nelson dellis, 27 who memorizes the order of an entire deck of cards in one minute and 3 seconds. >> when he puts the second deck in the exact same order, he set the national record. >> set a new record set by nelson. >> i'm looking at numbers, i'm looking at decks of cards, poetry, names and i
turn those pieces of information into pictures that i can see in my mind. >> reporter: long before the championships, each contestant prepares by matching a picture to every number and playing card. >> i see a roller coast err over there so i know that must be 45, mickey mouse over there i know that must be 37. >> reporter: the pictures form a story. the crazier the story, the easier it ask to remember. >> to a flower pouch where steve jobs was there and he was shopping. >> ann frank taking a bath with a guitar. >> johnny depp balancing a fence on his nose. >> reporter: eight finalists whittle-- whittled down to mental ironman delli circumstances. finally he is stumped. >> oh i would just like to be the first one to congratulate the new usa champion nellson. >> memory has a new american champion. a moment nelson dellis will not forget. >> and that's the "cbs evening news." i'm jim axelrod in new york. good night. captioni
shaken by a violent explosion. the injuries to one man as he picked up his morning paper. nerves frayed and livlihood's ruined... tonight, why some capitola residents say yesterday's flash flood never should have happened. and a state of emergency in a bay area neighborhood with a slipping hillside. how more homeowners spent their day packing up. cbs 5 eyewitness news is next. good evening, i'm ann ♪ [ male announcer ] unrestrained. unexpected. and unlike any hybrid you have ever known. ♪ introducing the most fuel-efficient luxury car available. ♪ the radically new, 42 mile per gallon ct hybrid from lexus. ♪